Under the Skin is a dramatic sci-fi thriller starring Scarlett Johansson, and now it could be on the verge of being turned into a TV series. But it’s a rather complicated affair.
After earning rave reviews from critics out of the Telluride Film Festival, Under the Skin was released in the spring of 2014, earning only $5.3 million worldwide. It was hardly a runaway hit, but it certainly has an intriguing premise, following an extraterrestrial disguised as a woman as she preys on men in Scotland. Now, a prospective Under the Skin TV series is now at the center of a bidding war between the original film’s financier and A24, the studio that released it in the United States.
Before we get to the meat of this story, here’s how Under the Skin is officially described from A24’s website:
From visionary director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth) comes a stunning career transformation, a masterpiece of existential science fiction that journeys to the heart of what it means to be human, extraterrestrial—or something in between. A voluptuous woman of unknown origin (Scarlett Johansson) combs the highways in search of isolated or forsaken men, luring a succession of lost souls into an otherworldly lair. They are seduced, stripped of their humanity, and never heard from again.
Based on the novel by Michel Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White), Under The Skin examines human experience from the perspective of an unforgettable heroine who grows too comfortable in her borrowed skin, until she is abducted into humanity with devastating results.
It’s easy to see how this could be turned into a viable TV series, which Deadline says is something that the original film’s production company Silver Reel has been wanting to accomplish for some time. However, though director Jonathan Glazer and producer James Wilson were interested in seeing what an Under the Skin TV series might be like when the idea was first floated in June of 2017, it wasn’t a priority for the filmmakers and they wanted to focus on other film projects instead.
So why is there now a bidding war for the rights to an Under the Skin TV series? Well, the original movie was made by Seventh Kingdom Productions, the production banner that counts Glazer and Wilson among their board of directors. That company is now in the midst of being broken up and having its assets distributed, much in the way a company would if they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. That means the TV rights are available to whoever is willing to pay the most for them.
Even though this sounds like a vicious battle between Silver Reel and A24 for the TV rights to Under the Skin, reportedly, the bidding war for the rights “has not been acrimonious and there is hope that all parties will emerge from the process with relationships intact.” Silver Reel obviously has a dog in this fight since they’ve been wanting to make this happen for a couple years now. As for A24, this is only something they became interested in late last year.
Honestly, as intriguing as it would be to see how Under the Skin works as a TV series, I can’t imagine it exploring the premise in a much more satisfying way. Sure, it would allow for a longer narrative and perhaps a more substantial exploration of humanity, but I fear that the series would have to be much less subtle in order to keep audiences interested in the story. The movie doesn’t spoon-feed you, but I can’t imagine a series adaptation being executed in the same way.
This deal is supposed to be worked out in the next few weeks, and we’ll see who walks away with the TV rights to Under the Skin. After that, who knows how long it might be before the movie is turned into a TV series.
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